Sunday, October 31, 2021

Rosiebebe at Almost 3.5 Years Old

A. Her Schedule – Left to her own devices, she'll wake up at the crack of dawn and go to bed whenever we go to bed, but her bedtime is 8:00 p.m.

B. Her Size – She's wearing size 5 clothing or extra-small, which is only one size smaller than our 6-year old. She's wearing size 10 shoes.

C. Her Personality – She is a pretty outgoing, friendly child. It's been weird having her spend basically half her entire life during a global pandemic when socializing (like at the playground) has been discouraged.

D. Her Favorite Things
  • Colors: Pink and red.
  • Shows and Movies: She still likes Disney movies but she watches a lot of YouTube videos too.
  • Books: She does not have a favorite book.
  • Toys and Play: She still really likes babydolls and all of the accessories. She also likes Duplos. She also likes tiny toys like Hatchimals. And she likes PlayDoh.
  • Art: She loves drawing with markers (both dry erase and regular).
  • Activities: She loves socializing with other friends, be they younger or older than her. She is drawn to babies like a moth to a flame - she loves meeting babies and enthusiastically saying "So cute! So cuddly!" to them.
  • Time of Day: She is an early bird.
  • Bedding: She has a pink blanket and a rainbow-colored pillow.
  • Clothing: She'll wear anything but she tends to be a girlie-girl if left to her own devices. She likes floral prints and the Houndstooth pattern in particular.
  • Foods: Besides milk, she likes chocolate and other sweet things.
  • Animals: She's not as into animals as her older brothers. That being said, she likes puppies and birds.
  • Heroes/Characters: Frozen's Elsa and Anna.
E. Things She Does Not Like – Bedtime. Eating most foods - she is a picky eater and is quick to label foods as "Ewww, gross!"

F. What She’s Thinking About – She is really into babies, including her own little brother. She declares her love for him daily. For the most part, he tolerates her affection, but it is a bit of a lopsided relationship.

G. Surprises – I'm a bit surprised that she's so into babies as I was not when I was a little girl. Though that may be because I didn't have a lot of exposure to babies whereas she has met them at daycare (pre-pandemic), not to mention living with a baby brother in her bedroom!

H. Best & Worst Things –
  • The best thing(s): She has a pretty good relationship with her oldest brother.
  • The worst thing(s): She is so incredibly loud. She talks loudly and continuously, and she sings even louder.
I. Family and Friends – She has a little buddy who is slightly older than her - her "buddy" is one of my BFF's children. Sometimes, they sweetly talk, hold hands, and play together. Other times, they fight bitterly over any given toy that they both want to play with at the same time.

J. Parenting or What I’m Doing Differently
 – Parenting during a pandemic is a weird experience. On the one hand, I am getting far more time near her than I otherwise would. On the other hand, ordinary experiences like taking her to the store aren't happening. She is still very confused by the concept of stores - places where you go and see things in packages but they're not yours, and you can't open them or take them with you when you leave.

K. Milestones – She's pretty good at counting and knowing her letters.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Serious Kiddo at Age 8

A. His Schedule – Left to his own devices, he'd wake up at around 7 a.m. and go to bed at around 9:00 p.m., but his bedtime is 8:30 p.m.

B. His Size – He's wearing a mostly size 7 clothes and he's wearing size 1 shoes.

C. His Personality – He's a contemplative child. He is very gentle, patient, kind, and forgiving with his younger siblings.

D. His Favorite Things
  • Colors: Blue.
  • Shows and Movies: He likes watching other people play video games on YouTube.
  • Books: He reads a lot. His favorite type of books is graphic novels (particularly humorous ones), but he also likes Pokémon guidebooks.
  • Toys and Play: He barely plays with toys anymore. He likes playing Minecraft on his laptop.
  • Art: He's not very into art, but he's still pretty good at getting his point across when he needs to create drawings to accompany his writing assignments. He enjoys working with clay though. He also likes crafts, like jewelry-making with Rainbow Bands.
  • Activities: Besides the aforementioned video game playing, and watching other people play video games, he likes to read. He enjoys quiet activities like putting together a puzzle.
  • Time of Day: I think he enjoys his afternoons at SACC (school-aged childcare) the most.
  • Bedding: He has a blanket with stars on it that is just like his brother's, and a soft blue pillow.
  • Clothing: He'll wear pretty much anything, but he has a preference for blue and for soft, cool clothing (e.g. shorts not pants, and cotton not denim).
  • Foods: Besides milk, he likes raisin bread and American cheese.
  • Animals: He still loves our dog, cat, and rabbit. He also likes Triceratops, sharks, and snakes.
  • Heroes/Characters: Mewtwo from Pokémon.
E. Things He Does Not Like – Meat.

F. What He’s Thinking About – He thinks he can sense how animals are feeling. This year, he wants a Halloween-themed birthday celebration again.

G. Surprises – I'm a bit surprised that he's not more into art.

H. Best & Worst Things –
  • The best thing(s): That he's a great big brother. That he plans well, such as budgeting for things he wants to purchase.
  • The worst thing(s): He sometimes gets very hyped up, and then it's difficult to get him to wind back down.

I. Family and Friends – He has a few close friends at school, including a "girlfriend" that he always sits with. He really enjoys spending time with my mom  she is probably his favorite person to hang out with.

J. Parenting or What I’m Doing Differently
 – Honestly, I'm trying really hard to create good habits and rituals (e.g. "movie night") but it is so hard with a tiny house and so many people.

K. Milestones – He is above grade level in both reading and math. He devours reading material.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Bear at 6.25 Years Old

A. His Schedule – Left to his own devices, he'd wake up at 8 a.m. or even later, and go to bed at 10:30 p.m. But he needs to wake at 7:15 a.m. for school, and his bedtime is 8:30 p.m.

B. His Size – He's wearing a mix of size 6 and size 7 clothes and he's wearing size 1 shoes.

C. His Personality – He's an empathetic, energetic child who loves to party.

D. His Favorite Things
  • Colors: He likes bright colors like red and he likes "rainbow." He also likes Fortnite purple.
  • Shows and Movies: He likes anything with the Avengers, particularly The Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • Books: He can't quite grasp reading yet, but he likes learning about science, particularly rocks and gems.
  • Toys and Play: Toy weapons, particulars Nerf Guns, which he collects.
  • Art: He's a creative guy who loves creating art, especially if glitter is involved.
  • Activities: He loves playing video games and watching YouTube videos of other people playing video games. Besides that, he likes playing outside.
  • Time of Day: For all the energy that he exudes, he likes nighttime a lot.
  • Bedding: He has a blanket with stars on it, and he still has his rainbow pillow.
  • Clothing: Unlike his older brother, he cares a lot about how he looks and wants "cooler clothes." His newest item is sneakers with flames on them.
  • Foods: Besides milk, he likes plain potato chips, meat, and raspberries.
  • Animals: He still loves our dog and cat. I would say his favorite animal might be dragons. I asked him, and he said it's peacocks, because he "likes rainbow-colored birds"
  • Heroes/Characters: The Hulk. I wish there was more Hulk merch.
E. Things He Does Not Like – Weirdly, none of my kids like pizza. Chocolate. Feeling excluded.

F. What He’s Thinking About – I think he worries about how he stacks up to others, which may be partly because he and his brother are so close in age. I know it bugs him that his older brother can read chapter books while he's struggling with even short words.

G. Surprises – I guess I am surprised at how quiet and "boring" it is every time he has a one-on-one sleepover with his grandma.

H. Best & Worst Things –
  • The best thing(s): I get a kick out of how artistic he his, combining supplies in unusual and effective ways. I'm glad that at least one of the kids is into art like my mom.
  • The worst thing(s): Emotional regulation is still challenging.

I. Family and Friends – I'm sad that some of his closest friends have drifted apart from us, either due to busy schedules on their end, or to them moving.

J. Parenting or What I’m Doing Differently
 – There's only so much space in our schedule. I wish I had the time to read to him one-on-one on a nightly basis. If we do it a couple of times a week, that's a win.

K. Milestones – Seeing him write his name on everything is pretty cute.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Last Son, Age 9.5 Months

A. His Schedule – He wakes up by 7 a.m., if not earlier. He takes a morning nap, starting some time between 10 and 11 a.m. We put him to bed for the night by 8 p.m., but sometimes as early as 6:30 p.m.  it just depends on how tired he is.

B. His Size – He's wearing mostly size 18-month clothing at age 9.5 months, but he has a size 12-month pair of baby jeans and a size 2T shorts romper that he wears regularly. At his 9-month (really 9.5 months) well-child appointment, his head circumference was 18-1/4 inches and his weight was 21 lb.

C. His Personality – He's a pretty awesome baby. He loves cords and fiddling with small items. He's friendly and relatively quiet (except when he's bouncing vigorously in his Jumperoo). He loves his oldest brother and thinks he's hilarious.

D. His Favorite Things
  • Colors: It is too soon to tell, but I'm hoping he likes yellow. His oldest brother's favorite color is blue, Teddybear's colors are green and red, and his sister's colors are red and pink, so yellow is "open" for the taking. He also looks really cute in green.
  • Shows and Movies: He doesn't really like watching children's programming – he'd rather make a beeline for open baby gates or electrical cords.
  • Books: We need to do a better job reading to him.
  • Toys and Play: We got him a cord / tube toy that he likes, and he has a Walk 'n Play (aka Musical Walker) that he likes.
  • Art: I don't think we've ever done an art project with him.
  • Activities: He's a sensory guy – he loves digging his hands into the grass, or mulch. He also loves mealtime.
  • Time of Day: Probably the morning, right when he gets up.
  • Bedding: He has a couple of mint-colored blankets.
  • Clothing: It seems like I am always putting him in the same two outfits - my favorites are this two-way zippered romper and a John Deere pajamas set (similar set).
  • Foods: Besides milk, he likes French fries and green beans. He eats almost everything we let him try.
  • Animals: It's too soon to tell what he likes, except that he seems to be interested in our dog and cat, to the extent that his eyes get wide and happy when he sees them.
  • Heroes/Characters: It's too soon to tell.
E. Things He Does Not Like – Being hungry – he can get hangry.

F. What He’s Thinking About – He likes following us around the house, and hates getting stuck on the opposite side of the baby gate from us.

G. Surprises – I cannot believe how lucky we are that we get to live with such an amazing baby.

H. Best & Worst Things –
  • The best thing(s): He's a healthy baby who sleeps reasonably well and seems to be a fan of me (enjoys my company).
  • The worst thing(s): This is the last time we're planning to be the parents of a baby – it's hard to leave the phase of cute baby feet, chunky baby thighs, cute baby clothes...

I. Family and Friends – Unfortunately, everyone is pretty busy. I wish our friends and family had slightly less hectic schedules so we could hang out at the park, or our house, or their house, relaxing. The baby would love to see them.

J. Parenting or What I’m Doing Differently
 – With each kid we add to our family, I relax a bit more. I also get more efficient, what some would call "rising to the occasion." I evolve because I have to. Others have said "you'll find grace when you need it" [and not beforehand]. With every kid, I also become more weary of screens  childhood is so short, and screens seems to eat away a lot of it. That being said, if I'm in the shower or need to vacuum, I'm thankful that I have the option to provide a safe way to distract them so that I can accomplish what is necessary.

K. Milestones – He now has two teeth on the bottom and is getting his two upper front teeth. He can't quite pull up yet, but he's getting there. We got a coffee table so hopefully that will help teach him to couch-surf.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Four Christmas Gifts

The saying goes:

Give them something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.

It's minimalism at its finest. At my particular household, here's why it didn't work for us:

  • The kids thought the wearable item was replacing a toy.
  • Most of my children can't read, and one doesn't even like being read to. Also, they kids thought the books were replacing toys.
  • If they truly need something, why make them wait until Christmas?

For what I do instead, see that information in a future post!

That being said, I can see how the "want-need-wear-read" system could work really well for some households.

Here are my "want-need-wear-read" suggestions for each category, by age.

Baby to 2 Years Old

2 to 5 Years Old

5 to 12 Years Old

12 to 18 Years Old

Friday, August 27, 2021

Post Ideas

Here are some posts I'm considering writing, organized by topic.

  • Halloween, simplified
  • Simple Halloween-Themed Party
  • Christmas Gifts at Our House
  • Christmas 4-Gift Saying
  • Family Christmas Lists
  • Christmas, Simplified
  • Hiking with Kids, simplified
  • Coffee at home, simplified
  • Simple Floral-Themed Party
  • Colors in Your Home, simplified
  • Kids' Books, simplified
  • Simple Doughnut-Themed Party
  • Thanksgiving, simplified
  • Kids' Capsule Wardrobes
  • Kids' Shoes, simplified
  • Giving Gifts, simplified
  • Adopting a Vacation Mindset at Home
  • Getting Fit at Home, simplified
  • Going to the Beach with Kids, simplified
  • The Kids' Toys that Failed Us
  • The Kids' Toys that We Loved
  • Solo Travel, simplified
  • Travel with Kids, simplified
  • Kids' Lunches, simplified
  • Useful Baby Shower Gifts
  • Bulk Holiday Gifts
Family posts
  • Kid Updates
Organization posts
  • Organization Products I Use
  • Fridge and Freezer Organization
Finance posts
  • My (very intentional) Splurges
  • Subscribe and Save, some thoughts
  • Charitable Donations for a Minimalist
  • Buying Easy to Care For Home Goods
  • My Living Room
  • My Master Bedroom
  • Miami-Themed Moodboards
Product Recommendations
  • Newborn Must-Haves for a Minimalist
  • Home Cleaning Products, my favorites
  • Open-Ended Kids' Toys
  • Makeup, my favorites
  • Pet Cat Must-Haves for a Minimalist
  • Pet Dog Must-Haves for a Minimalist
  • Pet Rabbit Must-Haves for a Minimalist
Arts and Crafts

  • Art-Themed Party
  • "Neon Night" Party

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Halloween, Simplified

 Here's my minimalist take on Halloween that hopefully makes it simpler for you!


What I Avoid: Letting my kids pick whatever costume they want, and doing a family theme.

Why? Two Anecdotes:

The Problem with "Choosing Anything" One year, my child picked a very obscure animated movie character, so there was no ready-made kit to buy. I scoured the internet as well as brick-and-mortar stores for the items to assemble this costume myself. Of course no one knew who my child was dressed up as. But the biggest problem was that for all the time and effort I spent on this endeavor, my child doesn't even remember the costume (he barely remembers the movie that inspired it). Not to mention that there is no chance any of my other children will want to re-use this costume, if it even fits them during autumn time.

The Problem with Group-Style Costumes Another year, we tried (in vain) to do "Ghostbusters" as a family. But I couldn't find a costume in my daughter's size. And I couldn't find a ready-made Jeanne costume for myself (from the animated series). And I couldn't find a Slimer costume for the dog. And I can't sew. And then Halloween got cancelled anyway because this was 2020. I have the same problem with "family pajama" photoshoots - it is very difficult to find one thing that comes in everyone's individual size, is affordable, and is equally liked by everyone.

What I Do Instead: Buying some parts of costumes that can be reused (Itemize It), buying play costumes that can be used for Halloween as well as the rest of the year for pretend play (Year-Round Play), and buying pajamas that double as costumes (Pajama-ize It).

How this Can Work:

Itemize It Say you want to do a Disney's Elsa costume. Yes, you could just buy that ready-made, and I would support that instead of making one yourself (unless you love making costumes). But, you could also buy the following items: plain blue dress, cloak, blue gloves, blue shoes, and kids' costume jewelry. You could then re-use the dress and some of the other items as part of your child's regular or dress-up / costume-play wardrobes. In that case of the jewelry, you could save a couple pieces and give away the rest either as Halloween treats or to your children's' friends.

Year-Round Pretend-Play Melissa and Doug do a lot of this sort of generic costume which could totally be worn on Halloween, as well as year-round as part of a costume trunk. These types of costumes also work really well in terms of handing them down from one child to the next, and the sizing is typically generous / loose-fitting enough to wear for more than a single Halloween. Here are some good ones: a doctor costume, a firefighter costume, a police officer costume, and a construction worker costume. You can add everyday wardrobe items to these costumes, such as red rain boots for the firefighter or yellow rain boots for the construction worker.

Pajama-ize It Instead of buying a Ninja Turtle costume, you could buy Ninja Turtle pajamas. Instead of buying a Superman costume, you could buy Superman pajamas. Instead of buying a Batman costume, you could buy Batman pajamas. Your child will also be super comfortable, I promise. Usually, I also find that pajamas are more durable than traditional costumes, and/or less expensive.


What I Avoid: Long, tiring walks hunting for candy with special-purpose buckets.

Why? One Anecdote:

The Problem with the Seemingly "Endless" Trick-or-Treat Walk One year, I had two of my young children with me. The youngest was too young to walk the whole thing, but quite heavy for me to carry. The other tired easily, even before his candy bucket got heavy. Not to mention that trick-or-treating happens at night, usually after a long day of work and/or school / daycare.

What I Do Instead:

Get a Wagon I bring a wagon that the children can ride in when they get tired. It also doubles as a way to haul their candy loot and any costume props or masks that the children tire of holding on to themselves. This wagon is also great for everyday neighborhood walks, going to the zoo, or going to the beach, etc. to haul either children, toys, or snacks (or all three).

Get Some Boring Buckets I also give the children plain buckets for their candy instead of traditional Halloween buckets, as the plain ones can be re-used throughout the year for other events like Easter or a Treasure Hunt, or even for cleaning or organizing.

Curtail the Walk I also limit our route to only a couple of streets, then return home. Waiting at home, I have a bag of the children's favorite candy to supplement their haul. In our area, you sometimes walk down an entire street where not only are none of the house participating, but the homes don't do the courtesy of turning off their porch light, so the child walks all the way to the door only to be met with disappointment. Other homes have jarringly spooky yard decorations, always a worry for more sensitive children.


What I Avoid: I do not enjoy food prep, so never again will I make all of the cute Pinterest Halloween foods. I also don't have a lot of storage space, so I try to have my Halloween décor be all consumables / disposables. I will also forgo structured kids' activities.

Why? Four Anecdotes:

The Problem with Cute Halloween Foods Kids are usually not adventurous eaters. One year for a Halloween-themed kids' party, I made "spider" sandwiches, "bone" snacks, string cheese "ghosts," and a "pumpkin" cheese ball. Do you know what the kids wanted to eat instead? Chips. Lots and lots of chips.

The Problem with Unique Halloween Foods One year, a friend created "black" chicken wings (similar). In addition to the dye being a bit purple or green in some places, and people's bowel movements being strange colors following the event, and the food dye being somewhat costly in order to buy it in the quantities that were needed, many guests simply found the food too weird to eat, so they didn't even try it.

The Problem with Perennial Décor I personally do not have the space to store bulky Halloween décor the other eleven months of the year. One year, we bought a wooden scarecrow decoration (similar) for our yard. The next three years, I either forgot it existed or forgot where we'd stowed it. Eventually, the sign got bent and rusty and we discarded it.

The Problem with Structured Activities Kids like to do things on their own terms. Want to have a relay race at your party? I've tried an failed. Want to have the kids play a Halloweeny tic-tac-toe game with spider game pieces? Yeah, the kids just ignored it. Want to have the kids craft their own spiders? This "fun" kit was not too fun (the pieces were hard to pop out). But my least fun idea, judging by how much the kids ignored it, seemed to be my printed off Halloween word searches. The problem with all of these activities is that they were too rigid. 

What I Do Instead:

Do Ordinary Party Food If cooking is your jam, go ahead and get creative, but I personally am sticking to ordinary party food: chips, juice, carrot sticks, cheese pizza, etc.

Do Consumable / Disposable Décor If you're okay with disposable serving ware, buy some themed plates or napkins. If you do a solid color such as orange for your serving ware then you can use them for the entire fall, such as for Thanksgiving. If you're okay with balloons, buy some Halloween balloons. One year, I paid a Party Store to fill my balloons with helium, but it only lasted 24 hours; I now just blow them up at home with ordinary air. My easiest and cheapest decorating trick is to just buy some solid-color bring crepe paper and tape it to the walls or ceiling.

Do an "Easter" Egg Hunt But temporary Halloween tattoos were somewhat interesting to the kids. And a really big hit was a Halloween-themed egg hunt - it's just like an Easter egg hunt where the eggs are filled with candy, but I used black plastic "Easter" eggs.

Do an Open-Ended Activity Table This could be you supplying random craft supplies in Halloweeny colors, or paper and Halloweeny stickers, and letting the kids make their own thing at your "Craft Table." Or, you could supply cookie or cupcake decorating items (e.g. Halloween sprinkles) at your "Decorating Table." The point is that the kids can approach this type of activity on their terms.

For more Halloween ideas, see my post titled Simple Halloween Themed Party.

*This post may contain associate links for which I may receive a small commission*

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Simple Halloween Themed Party

Ideas and Links:

For more ideas, see my post titled "Halloween, Simplified."

*This post may contain affiliate and/or associate links and I may earn a small commission*

Monday, June 21, 2021

ODD Notes

 I bought and am currently reading the book Overcoming Oppositional Defiant Disorder: A Two-Part Treatment Plan to Help Parents and Kids Work Together (published March 2019) by Gina Atencio-MacLean PsyD. I am using this post to keep track of my notes as I read and complete the exercises.

Introduction through page 16

Message I received:

  • Successfully helping a child with ODD is not a quick fix
  • Parents need to care for their own emotional needs before they'll be ready to address their child's
  • Parental anxiety is related to disruptive parent-child relationships: an increase in negative discipline (punishment), social distress, and controlling behaviors
  • Parental anxiety also decreases parental warmth and positive engagement, qualities that build connection
  • Walking on eggshells around the ODD child may actually encourage more of the unwanted behavior
  • Other children can get "lost in the shuffle" when the ODD child drains so many parental resources
  • Children with ODD have strong emotions and are very emotionally reactive
  • You want to respond to a situation, which is intentional, instead of reacting to it, which is an automatic reflex

Thinking exercises:

  • Q: What are your own triggers? Think of some times recently when you've lost your temper: What time of day was it? What else was going on? What did you do in the moment? What was the immediate result of that action?
  • A:  My mom was over and had been bothering me with her "helpful" parental suggestions, while I was trying to get work done. I could not concentrate on nor complete my work and was frustrated. I stopped talking to my child other than to say "please stop talking to me" increasingly loudly.
  • Q: Imagine a miracle day where the child no longer has ODD - what does that look like?
  • A: The school does not call home to indicate he's misbehaved. He thus successfully learns social and academic skills (like reading), and has fun doing so. After school, we go on a walk and he does not run off. We read a book together and he sits with me until the end.

Goals for next time:

  • Q: What two actions could you work on that would be a step towards the "miracle day" described above? Do them.
  • A: I could take my child on a walk, and could read a story to him and only him (as opposed to a group activity with the other children).

*This post contains an affiliate link for the book*

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Frugal Family Ideas

While not a literal bootcamp, here are some ideas that have stretched my family's paycheck a little further. With four kids under eight, we use quite a few money-saving strategies.

  1. Schedule clothing purchases, and purchase everyone's clothes at once.
    • I purchase the kids' clothes at three (3) specific times: back-to-school (late August), Black Friday, and early spring (before Easter). Why these times? Sales!
    • Unless someone is in dire need of a specific item, I buy all of the kids' clothes in a single transaction. Why a single transaction? It reduces shipping charges, and simplifies the returns process - I don't need to weed through a bunch of transactions since I only have three clothing receipts per year!
  2. Never buy an item without checking your inventory.
    • Before I buy the family some clothes, I will look through everyone's dresser and see what they already have, then create a shopping list that includes quantities. For example, Child 1 needs three pairs of pants and one long-sleeve shirt, while Child 2 needs two short-sleeve shirts. If my list just said "pants" or "shirts" I might buy too many!
  3. Cut everyone's hair at home.
    • There are plenty of YouTube videos for how to cut children's or adults' hair. Buy a decent set of tools, breathe, and give it a try. I prefer to cut everyone's hair on a single day about every four to six weeks (which is about 1 to 1.5 inches of hair growth, respectively). Personally, I'd rather just get my tools out and sweep once than spread this chore out over multiple days.
  4. Have a whole house color scheme.
    • I tend to think this makes a home look calmer and more cohesive, and this may free up mental energy by reducing visual stimuli. This will allow you to "borrow" items from one room to another. For example, our throw pillows are equally at home in our bedrooms, living room, and office. At my home, our color scheme is blue, green, and gray, plus neutrals like wood tones. I actually take this one step further and have a whole house vibe. At my home, I'm going for an airy Miami / tropical vibe.
  5. Organize your fridge.
    • If your fridge is disorganized, you will lose track of what you have, leading to spoiled items and double-buying. Consider removing built-in drawers, changing the heights of your fridge's shelves, adding turntables, and adding and labelling clear bins. Make it easy to quickly find and grab what you need.
  6. Keep wish lists.
    • Instead of buying something I want immediately, I add it to my Amazon Wish List. Frequently, I find that if I wait a few days, I no longer want it as badly. Avoid impulse purchases this way. We keep wish lists for the children too which they curate themselves. It really helps make gift-giving and receiving simple.
  7. Consider using Amazon Fresh or Instacart.
    • While grocery delivery services are not a free service, I believe the cost is low relative to the value I derive from it. No longer hauling kids to the store? No more impulse purchases? No more wandering the store desperately looking for that last item? Sign me up!
  8. Stick to a budget.
    • Writing out a budget is the easy part; sticking to a budget is the hard part. But it is so worth it. You'll be intentional and accountable.
  9. Save up for large charges on a monthly basis.
    • For all large transactions, such as car insurance, vehicle registration, or trash service, I budget for them as recurring monthly amounts. For example, if your car insurance is $600 due every 6 months, then set aside $100 every month for car insurance. You'll never be caught off guard when a large bill is due.
  10. Consider the cost per use when buying an item.
    • For me, this is most useful when considering shoes. For example, if a nice pair of leather boots costs $150 and I can wear them twice a week for two years before replacing them, then the cost per wear is about 72 cents because $150 / (2 times worn per week * 52 weeks per yr. * 2 yrs.). To get the cost per wear, divide the purchase price by the number of times you will ultimately wear the item.
  11. Create transactional friction whenever possible.
    • This is why I don't let stores' websites save my payment card information. I want to experience the discomfort of getting up and walking over to my wallet to retrieve my card. This is also why I don't use one-click shopping. Or let Alexa order items for me. Or make a purchase without first entering the transaction into my budget app. The more transactional friction you create, the less likely you are to buy.
  12. Live in a small home.
    • The smaller your home, the lower your utility bills and property taxes will be. You will also be less likely to buy more than you need because you won't have the space to stow extra items. It's more likely that you won't keep item duplicates since no item is ever too far away. I remember a friend showing me her "downstairs baby changing area" and while very practical for her, my own home was small enough that my walk to my baby's room was quite short.
  13. Embrace minimalism.
    • Currently, my two oldest children share a single closet which contains not only their clothes but also some school supplies and pet supplies. Yes, they have a small enough number of clothes that each item gets a lot of wear. But, we're saving a lot of money by buying only what we need.
  14. Only buy for the season you're in.
    • I used to stock up on items for my children to grow into. But you know what? By the time my kids are older, the saved item may be out of season or not to the their taste. Not only that, but I may not be able to find it when the time comes.
  15. Choose a few merchants and only shop there.
    • For clothes the practical reason to do this is because that way all of the colors will go together nicely - you won't have several slightly different shades of red, for example. Other benefits of only shopping at a few places over and over again are: you're familiar with their website or store so you are less likely to stray and make impulse purchases, you're more likely to get the maximum rewards program perks, returns might be easier (less guessing about where you bought something, and more familiarity with their policies), and you have a better idea of their sizing (for wearable items). Said another way, the benefit here is predictability. I would also try this with things like airfare (pick one carrier) and hotels (pick one chain) whenever possible in order to maximize rewards.
  16. Create shared family shopping lists.
    • We have shared lists for groceries, the hardware store, and even quick-cook meals. This reduces the likelihood that unnecessary items are purchased.
  17. Use Pinterest to keep track of what you own (or want to own).
    • I pin product information for items I buy so that I will know things like their dimensions, color, material, etc. This helps me keep an eye on my inventory. And makes it easier for me to tell, without actually bringing a product home, if it will fit in. This also helps me plan for future projects. For example, if I'm planning a birthday party, I might pin several party games, balloons, serving ware, cake recipes and accessories to a dedicated board. Seeing everything together helps me weed out the weakest ideas.
  18. Avoid off-site storage.
    • This one may be controversial, but unless you're staging your home and have a short-term off-site storage solution, I'd avoid using off-site storage. It often winds up costing more than if you just sold the items and bought them again secondhand as needed. Plus, you are more likely to stow items you don't truly need. And, when you do actually need the items, it can be a pain to retrieve them. Not to mention the draconian policies if you don't make your on-time payments in full for the storage space. Sometimes, long-term off-site storage is just delaying the decision to get rid of something.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

One-Subject Art Challenge

The idea is simple:

Choose one subject and draw that subject every day. You will get better.


I'd heard about this idea from my mom who read about it somewhere - a professional artist picked just one subject and created an artistic variant of that subject every day for a year.

My subject:

The toucan. Why? Because I like its comically large nose. And I do tend to like tropical things. And I didn't like the toucan artwork available for sale, so if I ever do get good, I think I could find a niche market for this.

How it's going:

I'm getting better. By posting these I am clearly not afraid to show that I didn't start off with a mastery of this subject.

Continued drawings:

#artwork #art #toucan